Alas! The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has finally approved the use of drones in Kenya. Under the Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, Act 2019, Kenyans can now buy drones and use them for commercial and recreational purposes.
The Act also oversees any activity related to drones in the country, from manufacturing, assembly, modification, testing, and the sale of drones locally.
The report comes months after we last heard of the final draft heading to parliament in January. This was after several amendments were made, which included public opinions collected by the Authority.
Laying ground rules for drone operation in Kenya has been a mess, tracing its way back to over four years ago. The laws in play are very stringent, however.
Drone Ownership in Kenya
Under the draft, a person is eligible to own a UAS in the country as long he/she is a Kenyan Citizen or a resident in Kenya who has attained the minimum age of eighteen. A locally registered company is also legible to own a drone in the country.
The draft prohibits drone ownership transfer unless one seeks approval from the Authority. Plus, the Authority prohibits civilians from owning, registering, or operating a drone with military specifications.
Importing of Drones
A person will only be allowed to import a drone after acquiring a permit, which is to be issued by the Authority. For exportation, a person must “notify the Authority in writing and obtain a de-registration certificate.”
Drone importation costs another Ksh 3,000. According to the authority, a person will be required to apply for importation permission before importing a drone.
You’ll have to submit your identification documents and a Police clearance certificate issued in the past 12 months. For companies, applicable registration details will be needed. Lastly, the authority will need a photo of the drone.
To register a drone, which is mandatory before being allowed to own, and operate one in the country, the Authority shall issue a registration certificate. The Authority seeks to establish a database that’ll be used to identify drones and their respective owners.
This deters any modification of drone specs without approval from the Authority. Major modifications will have to be documented and approved first.
Temporary permits may also be issued, allowing operation up to a maximum of 30 days and can only be renewed once. These temporary permits cost a hefty Ksh 20,000.
Drone registration in Kenya costs Ksh 3,000, and amending registration details will set you back by Ksh 2,000. A Copy of the UAS Register will cost Ksh 3,000.
On application to register a drone, you must submit, among other things, a drone pilot certificate and a copy of a liability insurance document related to drone operation. The mandatory drone pilot certificate means you’ll have to enroll for a drone flying course.
There’s also a Certificate of Airworthiness that cost Ksh 5,000 for flying drones considered as high risk. A separate one for Operation authorizations @ Ksh 2000 (category A – low-risk profile drone) and Ksh 2500 for category B and C (moderate to high risk), presumably, might also have to be acquired.
One can de-register the drone when they want to register it elsewhere. Or, upon destruction, permanent withdrawal from use, or “in the interest of national security.” The Authority can also de-register if they determine the owner or operator has violated these regulations.
A Certificate of Deregistration or Cancellation costs Ksh 2,000.
Registration of Drone Resaler Charges and Distribution
For those who wish to import and resale drones in Kenya, a Ksh 80,000 certification will have to be sought initially. It’s not clear how long the resaler certificate lasts. However, there’s a Ksh 50,000 fee for renewal. Amending an approved resale certificate will cost Ksh 5,000.
Article originally published on April 10th, 2020.
Update 18/03/2021: Following parliament’s approval to formalise drone charges in Kenya, we’ve updated the article with official fees for registration, de-registration, ownership transfer, etc.